The No. 2 Huskies proved that to a crowd of 5,462 Friday night at Gampel Pavilion and were led by forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who had a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. The freshman trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck combined for 40 points and 17 rebounds.
"I think that we can all hit an open shot," Stewart said of the freshman trio. "Whatever we need to do for the team we'll do it. Whether it's pass, get a rebound, or score."
Stewart had 15 points, eight rebounds and blocked four shots in 24 minutes off the bench. She went 6 of 11 from the floor and hit one of her five three-point attempts. Tuck also came off the bench to log 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists.
"Everybody is nervous coming into the season so when you get your first game over with, it's always good," said Jefferson, who started at point guard in her first game at UConn. In 25 minutes, Jefferson had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
"I think the freshman have been really consistent ever since they got here," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "Morgan is always going to be a good rebounder. She's always going to be someone that is playing good defense. She's always going to be someone who is making shots when we need them. Breanna Stewart is going to block shots, she's going to score, she's going to do it all. . . . Moriah Jefferson is going to be a facilitator, she's going to penetrate for us, and she's going to play good defense."
Jefferson started in place of All-American guard Bria Hartley, who has been sidelined with a nagging ankle injury. Jefferson got even more minutes with Caroline Doty sidelined. Doty, with a long history of injuries, tweaked her knee during shooting practice earlier in the day. Doty is expected to play in the next exhibition game on Nov. 7. But coach Geno Auriemma understands Doty's health will always be an issue.
"For the most part I think it's nothing for anybody to worry about, for anybody to obsess about because there's nothing you can do about it," Auriemma said of Doty's health. "We just shut it down, walk away from it and live to play another day. We have practice tomorrow and she'll be there."
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Auriemma was in mid-season former during his postgame press conference. A comment on the officials Friday night turned into an evaluation of Stewart's court presence.
"We have to get the referees up to speed a little," Auriemma said. "I'm not sure they realize that when Breanna Stewart is on the floor it's like having the scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" [out there]. At some point, you are just going to have to lay her on the floor and put her back together again. She's all over the place.
"At one point, they called a foul on her after she shot the ball. Look, she falls down so much she should take a Breathalyzer before she steps on the floor. She runs around and just makes plays that no one else can make. Every time you look over at her, she has fallen down and you don't know what the heck happened to her.
"We need to let the refs know that's just the way she is. But let me tell you, you haven't seen anything, yet."
UConnPlaybook.com publisher Ken Davis contributed to this story.